Pronunciation: [PAS-chuh-rize; PAS-tuh-rize]
To kill bacteria by heating milk or other liquids to moderately high temperatures for a short period of time. Milk must be heated to at least 145°F for not less than 30 minutes or at least 161°F for 15 seconds, and then rapidly cooled to between 45° and 55°F. The process was discovered by the famous French scientist Louis Pasteur while he was researching the cause of beer and wine spoilage. Although pasteurization is used in beer processing and for some wines and fruit juices, the major beneficiary is milk. Pasteurization kills the bacteria in milk that were once responsible for transmitting diseases such as typhoid fever, tuberculosis, scarlet fever, polio and dysentery. Lactic acid bacteria, which cause milk to sour, are not destroyed by pasteurization. Neither is the food value of milk greatly diminished by the process. See also homogenize.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.